Gluten-Free Diet Difficult for Celiac Patients

Celiac disease affected by anxiety and depression

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For patients with celiac disease, eating a diet that’s free of gluten can be tricky. But if you can get savvy at managing your diet, you'll enjoy a better quality of life.

British researchers examined the diets of celiac disease patients and found that people who had the most trouble adhering to a gluten-free diet were more likely to be depressed and have anxiety, while those who said their diet was easy to manage had no such problems and enjoyed a higher quality of life, defined as having a better “well-being” and lower psychological stress.

"Celiac disease patients must learn how to manage a gluten-free diet."

The scientists looked at questionnaires completed by 573 men and women with celiac disease, ranging in age from 18 to 66-plus. Here’s what they found: Most patients – about 80% - have trouble staying gluten-free.

Of these people, 5% found it impossible, 14% said it was “mostly difficult,” 61% said it was “sometimes difficult.” The remaining 20% said they had “no difficulty” following a gluten-free diet.

The biggest challenge facing gluten-free eaters: trying to eaten gluten-free when dining out. Travel, socializing and eating well “at work” also made it challenging to eat gluten-free.

According to the researchers, “wealthy” celiac disease patients were three times more likely to adhere to the diet, compared to their less affluent counterparts. The researchers note that it’s not surprising wealthier people are able to stick to their gluten-free diet because gluten-free food is often more expensive than regular food products.

More affluent people also have greater access to gluten-free foods in shops and supermarkets.

People who were more educated also found it easier to eat gluten-free. The researchers speculate that more educated people have better problem-solving skills and can better overcome food obstacles.

The research team concluded that a patient can improve their ability to manage a gluten-free diet – and subsequently, their quality of life - with dietary support and education.

This observational study was published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases.

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Review Date: 
December 5, 2011
Last Updated:
December 6, 2011